Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for family carers of people with dementia: A feasibility study of a new mode of delivery (iACT4CARERS)

The iACT4CARERS project aims to convert face-to-face delivered “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” (ACT) for family carers of people with dementia to an online mode of delivery. We will then find out what works and does not work when using ACT in this new way with family carers so that we can carry out a full research trial in the future.

Caring for someone with dementia can be hard, and family carers are much more likely to be depressed or anxious than other carers or non-carers and therefore need support with their mental health. Unfortunately, family carers are currently under-provided for by healthcare services. This is because some carers are unable to travel, others do not have access to relevant therapists and, for others, finding somebody else to look after the person with dementia while they attend psychological services is an issue. An online therapy could address this.

ACT helps people to deal with the inevitable psychological pain and distress of life. ACT does not aim to eliminate this psychological pain and distress. Instead ACT teaches people how to respond to painful thoughts and feelings in such a way that these experiences exert less influence over what they do. This way more time is spent living a healthy life rather than fighting with thoughts and feelings. Many published studies support face-to-face ACT for people with anxiety or depression but there is very little research into online ACT, and it has not been tested with carers of people with dementia.

Key Research Question

Is it feasible and acceptable to deliver ACT for family carers of people with dementia in an online format?

Research Design and Outputs

This project is funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme (ref: PB-PG-0418-20001) and expected to end in August 2021.

We will generate a written protocol and audio/video materials to enable face-to-face ACT for family carers of people with dementia to be delivered in an online format. The initial prototype of online ACT will be reviewed by our PPI group (carers) for further refinement. Family carers of people with dementia experiencing anxiety and/or low mood will be recruited across three NHS mental health trusts to take part in an uncontrolled feasibility study.

Research Team

If you have any questions or require any further information about the study, then please contact the Chief Investigator Dr Naoko Kishita, Lecturer in Dementia and Complexity in Later Life at UEA.